April 20, 2018

Five for Friday: Film directors

Lights. Camera. Action. Finnish film goes global.
Lights. Camera. Action. Finnish film goes global.
Julia Bushueva

Finnish cinema is reaching an ever-growing audience on screens around the world.

Aki Kaurismäki may very well be the most recognised Finnish director abroad, but he is far from the be-all and end-all for the local film scene. So, wonder who else from here is making their celluloid dreams come true?

Selma Vilhunen

This Academy Award-nominated director and screenwriter made her full-length debut last year with Little Wing. The heart-warming tale has made an impact on screens from Toronto to Belgrade. Meanwhile, Vilhunen’s 2017 documentary Hobbyhorse Revolution did as its title suggests: made waves worldwide with its depiction of Finnish youngsters’ hobby.

“For the girls in this film, hobbyhorsing is a real way to cope with not only the pressure of growing up but some of the bullying that comes along with it,” the director said last year.

Klaus Härö

Five films into his career, Härö has won over 60 awards, including the Ingmar Bergman prize. Providing Finland’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film on four occasions, he received his widest applause yet for his sensitive and thoughtful output in 2015’s The Fencer. Echoing this, Härö puts his hands together for the local scene.

“Among Finnish directors there is a feeling of mutual respect,” Härö told us in 2015. “There is a really big thirst to throw yourself in, make contact and find co-workers and develop as film-makers.”

Dome Karukoski

Balancing Nordic and American sensibilities, Karukoski broke through onto the international stage with his fifth feature, Tom of Finland. Now, he has his sights set on helming a J.R.R. Tolkien biopic.

We asked him back in 2016 what he thinks makes Finnish films so special. “Their black humour,” he said. “It’s so black, foreign people often don’t understand the funny parts. One of my most popular films, Lapland Odyssey, starts with five suicides. It’s a comedy.”

Katja Gauriloff

First catching global attention with the 2012 documentary Canned Dreams, this documentary film-maker followed it up with 2016’s Kaisa’s Enchanted Forest, a fairytale set in the land of the Skolt Sami people near the Arctic Circle. Narrated by the director’s great-grandmother, the film was recognised with a number of accolades, including the Grand Prix prize at the Northern Character Film & TV Festival in Murmansk.

“I’m very surprised and flattered by the award,” the director said at the time. “It’s great that a film about Skolt Sami legends and history has been acknowledged in such a wonderful way in Russia.”

Jesse Haaja

Never give up on your dreams – Finland’s first superhero film, Rendel, is living proof of this. A decade-and-a-half into a marketing career, this director turned to the sketches of his youth after an unfortunate turn of events. It was time to learn by doing.

“I had a vision, but no knowledge or experience,” he said last year, just before the film was released in some 40 global markets. “I was pursuing my dream and didn’t have time to stop and think. The only thing that saved me was that I had no idea what I was doing.”